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Blinken warns that offensive in Rafah could lead to Israel’s further isolation as UN turns down ceasefire resolution | Global News

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has cautioned Israel about launching an offensive on Rafah, the southern Gazan city housing more than one million people, as it could lead to further isolation.

Following the veto of a US-sponsored ceasefire resolution by Russia and China at the UN Security Council, Mr. Blinken stated that he had frank discussions with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Mr. Blinken emphasized that a military ground operation in Rafah could result in more civilian casualties, disrupt humanitarian aid efforts, isolate Israel globally, and compromise its long-term security and reputation.

In response, Prime Minister Netanyahu asserted that Israel would act independently if necessary, considering Rafah as the last major stronghold of Hamas in Gaza.

These remarks from Mr. Blinken came as Russia and China vetoed a resolution on Friday that linked an immediate ceasefire to the release of hostages taken by Hamas during the October 7 attack.

According to Russia’s UN ambassador, the proposal was highly politicized and appeared to authorize Israel to launch a ground assault in Rafah, where over a million Palestinians have sought refuge.

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Greenfield-Thomas addresses a meeting of the U.N. Security Council.
Pic: Reuters
US ambassador to the UN, Linda Thomas-Greenfield. Pic: Reuters

Israel-Hamas war latest: Three countries reject Gaza ceasefire resolution

Israel has been facing mounting pressure to allow more humanitarian aid to reach the over two million people in Gaza and provide better protection for civilians, with an estimated 32,000 casualties during Israel’s offensive.

The draft resolution had gone through numerous consultations with council members and signaled a tougher stance from America towards Israel.

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Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the US ambassador to the UN, denounced the failure of the resolution as “outrageous and beneath the dignity of the UN Security Council.”

She noted, “There are two deeply cynical reasons behind this vote. First, Russia and China could not bring themselves to condemn Hamas’s terrorism on October 7.”

“Russia and China refused to denounce Hamas for their atrocities, including burning people alive, attacking civilians, raping women, and taking hostages.

“This was the deadliest attack on Jews since the Holocaust – and a permanent council member couldn’t condemn it.”

Read more:
UK aid for Gaza ‘stuck at border for weeks’ as Cameron blames Israel
Head of UN agency says Israel blocked him from entering Gaza

Analysis: No resolution, but a significant day

There is no world crisis grave enough to forge unity at the UN, one that reaches beyond the political dynamic of vested interest.

It was never looking like the resolution would pass, not since the Russians had taunted the Americans over their loose language – the “imperative” around an immediate ceasefire. As the Russians put it, an imperative to put our $100 in our pocket doesn’t mean there’s $100 in our pocket.

There are solid arguments behind the Russia/China/Algeria veto. To state that Joe Biden has domestic political difficulties created by the US stance is to state a fact.

The US ambassador had other words for it – audacity and hypocrisy on the part of Russia. Not for the first time at the UN building in midtown Manhattan, the interests of the people of Gaza and a growing catastrophe suddenly felt a long way away.

So no resolution but it’s not a day without significance. America has shifted its position on a ceasefire and, incrementally, increased pressure on Israel.

As important as discussions were around the security council table, the more immediate impact, practically, is always going to come from talks in Qatar on an actual ceasefire and actual hostage release.

It’s a form of words presented to players at the UN that will resonate with the key players in Qatar.

Barbara Woodward, the UK’s permanent representative to the UN, cautioned, “Palestinians are facing a devastating and growing humanitarian crisis which will not improve until more aid can get into Gaza.

“So we are deeply disappointed that Russia and China were unable to support this council to clearly and unequivocally state the need for an immediate and sustained ceasefire.”

Washington had previously vetoed three draft resolutions since the war began – two of which would have demanded an immediate ceasefire.

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